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Full text of "My Country And My People"

MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

defines his relationships with others. Without a name, c>r a
definition of the social relationship, a man would not know
his^tt, or duties in that relationship, and hence would not
know how to behave. The Confucian idea is that if every man
knows his place and acts in accordance with his position,
social order will be ensured. Of the "five cardinal human
relationships," four are occupied with the family. They are
the relationships between king and subject, between father and
son, between husband and wife, and those between brothers
and between friends. The last relationship between friends
may be identified with the family, because friends are those
who can be included in the family circle—"family friends." The
family then becomes the starting-point for all moral conduct.

It is only fair to mention that Confucius never intended
family consciousness to take the place of social or national
consciousness and develop into a form of magnified selfishness
—consequences which, with all his practical wisdom, he had
not foreseen. The evils of the family system were already
apparent in the times of Hanfeitse (end of the third century
B.C.), in my opinion the greatest of China's political thinkers
of that period. Pictures of the political practices of his times
contained in Hanfeitse's works fit in perfectly for present-day
China, such as the breaking down of the civil service system
through nepotism and favouritism, robbing the nation to
enrich the family, the erection of rich villas by politicians, the
absence of any punishment for offending officials, the con-
sequent absence of "public citizenship" (in Hanfeitse's own
words) and general lack of social consciousness. These were
all pointed out by Hanfeitse, who advocated a government by
law as the way out, and who had to drink hemlock, like
Socrates.

But, in theory at least, Confucius did not mean family
consciousness to degenerate into a form of magnified selfishness
at the cost of social integrity. He did, in his moral system, also
allow for a certain amount of ultra-domestic kindness. He
meant the moral training in the family as the basis for general
moral training, and he planned that from the general moral
training a society should emerge which would live happily
and harmoniously together. Only in this sense can one under-